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Polar Packing

November 12, 2014


At East Knox High School, Tanesha Lewis got to try out “Big Red” when Dr. Rachael Morgan-Kiss came to visit.
But what else do you need to wear in Antarctica?

LuggageA dozen sets of Thermasilk long johns from Sierra Trading Post. For those of you facing the “polar vortex” from Alaska, I enthusiastically recommend these. Thermasilk underneath is worth more than a sweater; it keeps you comfortable at a wide range of temperatures, from sitting at the office to running the frozen trail.

The UV goggles, of course, to protect you from the ozone hole. Baby wipes, to clean yourself without water for a week. And above all, chocolate. McMurdo appears to be populated by chocoholics, who distribute this thermal protectant fuel to all passengers on the ice flight. In case they don’t, though, it’s recommended to pack one’s own (if the New Zealand Customs lets it in).

The best part of packing for Antarctica is you get this super cool luggage tag, so that wherever in the world your luggage ends up (after three international flights) they know where it’s supposed to go.


Meanwhile, our advance team asked me to bring various items they left behind.


Power cords and filters? You can’t get these anywhere on Antarctica?
Is this any way to run a continent?

My big question is, who’s left to bring all the stuff  leave behind?


Wendy Busenburg’s got it covered, all set with a backpack for whatever doesn’t fit in my suitcase. And Steve Arnett plans to come help sling-load my helicopter.

Thanks to everyone for pitching in and making adjustments so I could make this trip.


Finally got all the Extreme Cold Weather gear (ECW) at the Antarctica center in Christchurch. The poster shows all the stuff we’re required to wear on the Ice Flight, the Air Force plane that lands on the Ross ice shelf. The outer layers are shown, but actually there are supposed to be four layers in all: thermal underwear, fleece over-wear, inner jacket, red jacket and wind pants. The “bunny boots” have air-pocket insulation and inch-thick soles. The problem is that you get on the ice flight in Christchurch, at 70 degrees F, fly eight hours, then step out into zero F.


If you want to get yours, there’s a whole warehouse full here in Christchurch. That’s Marie waving, so come on over and pick your “big red” (sorry it sounds like Denison). I did spot one purple inner coat there. Anyway, they have every possible size of everything.

The group I arrived with were there for all kinds of science and construction work, including seismometers. Not for earthquakes–for glacier quakes. In the morning, we all crowd into the cargo hold with our gear. BIOL 103 students watched Encounters at the End of the World  by Werner Herzog. Much of what’s in that film I will be doing in the next few days.

Next: Midnight Sunglasses
Index: Antarctica

One Comment
  1. November 13, 2014 11:55 am

    stay warm

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